Spartacus Blog

Robert F. Kennedy was America's first assassination conspiracy theorist

John Simkin

David Talbot, wrote in his excellent book, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) that Robert F. Kennedy "was America's first assassination conspiracy theorist." (1) Soon after the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy received a phone call from J. Edgar Hoover, who insisted that Cuba's communist government was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He claimed that Oswald had "shuttled in and out of Cuba" which was untrue. In reality, Oswald - or someone impersonating him - had tried only once, without success, to enter Cuba through Mexico, in September, 1963. (2)

RFK rejected the idea because he knew it was not in the interests of Fidel Castro to want his brother dead because of the secret negotiations that had been taking place between the two countries. However, he did send William Walton, an old political friend of the Kennedy family, to the Soviet Union to make enquiries and to speak to Georgi Bolshakov, a Soviet agent formerly stationed in Washington. Bolshakov had played a major role in diplomacy between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Kennedy administration. RFK had secretly met with Bolshakov on numerous occasions in 1961 and was a vitally important back-channel contact between the American and Soviet governments. (3)

Bolshakov denied that the Soviets were involved in the assassination. Walton told Bolshakov that the Kennedy family believed that President Kennedy had been killed by a large political conspiracy. "Perhaps there was only one assassin, but he did not act alone." Walton added that the Kennedys made it clear that they did not believe the conspirators were acting on foreign orders. This information was included in a memo prepared by Bolshakov for the KGB. (4)

Robert Kennedy Investigation

Robert F. Kennedy phoned Julius Draznin in Chicago, an expert on union corruption, and asked him to look into whether there was any Mafia involvement in the killing of his brother. He was especially interested in Sam Giancana, who had been overheard on FBI wiretaps making threats against JFK: "We need help on this. Maybe you can open some doors with the mob. Anything you pick up, let me know directly". Seymour Hersh interviewed Draznin in 1994 and he admitted he recruited a few friends who were also in law enforcement, and over the next few weeks the ad hoc group looked for ties between Oswald and the Chicago mob. But the group "could find no evidence that Sam Giancana's henchmen had anything to do with Kennedy's assassination." (5)

However, it was Walter Sheridan, who became Kennedy's main investigator. Sheridan, a former FBI agent, had worked with RFK when he was chief counsel of the Senate Rackets Committee. Sheridan also played an important role in the prosecution of Jimmy Hoffa. He was in the federal court building in Nashville, where Hoffa was awaiting trial, when he was told the news of the assassination. Sheridan immediately returned to the East Coast and RFK asked him to find out who killed the president of the United States. (6)

Robert Kennedy also contacted people he thought might know about the assassination. One of the first people he telephoned was John McCone, the director of the CIA, and told him to come to his house. They spent three hours together talking about what had taken place. Kennedy later told a friend: "You, know, at the time I asked McCone... if they had killed my brother, and I asked him in a way that he couldn't lie to me, and they hadn't." (7)

On the evening of the assassination, Robert Kennedy spoke to Enrique (Harry) Ruiz-Williams, a Bay of Pigs veteran who was his closest associate in the Cuban exile community. Kennedy shocked his friend by telling him, "One of your guys did it." The journalist, Haynes Johnson, was with Ruiz-Williams at the time later recalled: "Harry stood there with the phone in his hand and then he told me what Bobby said... It was a shocking thing. I'll never forget, Harry got this look on his face. After he hung up, Harry told me what Bobby had said." (8)

As David Talbot pointed out: "When Bobby Kennedy told his comrade-in-arms Harry Ruiz-Williams, 'One of your guys did it,' he might as well have been saying, 'One of our guys did it' or even 'One of my guys did it'. Bobby was saying that his brother had been killed by someone in his own anti-Castro operation... He was supposed to know where the darkness fell, and how to keep his brother safe from it. His brother's death was his fault - this is certainly another wound that his brother's killers aimed to inflict. For they knew it would not be enough to assassinate the president - they would have to find a way to stop his avenging brother from coming after them as well, to hobble him with guilt and doubt." (9)

Kennedy's biographer, Evan Thomas, explained that he developed a "private bond" with Williams. (10) Kennedy claimed that Williams was "very brave and had very good judgment". (11) Former FBI agent William Turner wrote that "Harry Williams was a Kennedy kind of man, tough and liberal and ferociously anti-communist". (12) A Kennedy aide confirmed to Turner that in 1963 "the CIA was "running a kind of program against Castro" and that "Harry Williams would drop by whenever he was in Washington to meet with CIA agents." (13)

Robert Kennedy with Harry Ruiz-Williams
Robert Kennedy with Harry Ruiz-Williams

In the weeks that followed Robert F. Kennedy was able to discover the origins if not the actual names of those involved in the assassination. RFK then told the rest of the family but explained he could not reveal in to the public and would go along with the cover-up. The story was so terrible that it would severely damage the reputation of John F. Kennedy and would make it impossible for him and his brother Edward from ever becoming president. As Talbot explains: "In true Kennedy fashion, he wanted to control any investigation of the crime - not only to ensure its authenticity, but to prevent any damage to his brother's legacy and his own political future. Bobby knew that if the Kennedy administration's secret war against Castro - a war that he was supposed to be overseeing - was revealed as the source of the plot against his brother, the family's image could be badly tarnished." (14)

John F. Kennedy and Liberalism

To understand the situation in 1963 it is necessary to go back to events that took place several years before the assassination. Today we tend to remember John and Robert Kennedy as liberals, but that is not true of their political attitudes in the years following the Second World War. Like their father, they were passionate anti-communists. In 1953 Joe McCarthy appointed Robert Kennedy as one of the 15 assistant counsels to the Senate subcommittee on investigations. JFK also supported McCarthy and when Adlai Stevenson asked him to take part in a political broadcast condemning McCarthyism in 1953, he refused. (15)

One of the leaders of the Democratic Party's liberal wing, Eleanor Roosevelt, hated JFK for his approach to McCarthyism and called him "a gutless wonder". Roosevelt wondered, with reason, how the author of Profiles in Courage (1956), "a book extolling political leaders who put principle ahead of expediency, could have avoided taking a stand against McCarthyism, the greatest threat to American democracy of the day." (16) Roosevelt apparently commented that it was a shame that the glamorous young senator "had a little less profile and a little more courage." (17)

By the 1960 Presidential Election the main political issue was the government established by Fidel Castro in Cuba. On 9th January, 1960, Vice President Richard Nixon had lunch with William Pawley, who was a close friend and business associate of Fulgencio Batista, the former dictator of Cuba. Nixon regarded Pawley as his main adviser on Latin America. During the lunch they spoke about the situation in Cuba and Nixon suggested that Pawley invited President Dwight Eisenhower for a weekend of hunting at his Virginia farm. (18)

Robert Kennedy with Harry Ruiz-Williams
William Pawley

On 14th January, 1960, the National Security Council (NSC) reviewed its policy on Cuba and Livingston T. Merchant of the State Department explained that his agency was "cooperating with CIA in action (redacted) designed to build up an opposition to Castro". The NSC members discussed different legal bases for intervention. Nixon, who had already been selected as the Republican Party candidate for the 1960 Presidential Election, urged the overthrow of Castro. (19)

Three days later President Eisenhower had meetings to discuss proposals for covert action in Cuba. He told two NSC staffers to meet Pawley. Five days later, Pawley called one of his CIA contacts to report that Matthew Slepin, "chairman of the Dade Country Republican Party, had promised twelve Cuban exiles either $20 million or $200 million on behalf of Vice President Nixon to finance the overthrow of Castro." (20)

President Eisenhower was not in total agreement with Nixon on the plan against Castro. In a press conference held on 22nd January he claimed that the United States was continuing to prevent aggressive acts against Castro mounted from within U.S. territory, and it recognized Cuba's right to undertake domestic reforms. He also confirmed that "the policy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other countries, including Cuba." (21)

JMWAVE: CIA Station in Miami

In July 1960, JMWAVE, the CIA station in Miami, Florida, began training a couple of hundred Cubans in counter-intelligence, in order to develop the nucleus of a post-Castro security organization in Havana. The head of the station was Ted Shackley, whose nickname was the "Blond Ghost" (because he hated to be photographed), became involved in CIA's Black Operations. Shackley was also closely associated with William Pawley and Eddie Bayo, the founder of Alpha 66. (22)

Robert Kennedy with Harry Ruiz-Williams
Eugenio Martinez, John Martino, Eddie Bayo and Rene Lomalru were
all involved in CIA anti-Castro activities in the early 1960s.

Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), put Richard Bissell, Deputy Director for Plans, in charge of this anti-Cuba task force. Later that month Dulles arranged for Kennedy to meet the four leaders of the anti-Castro organization, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front (FRD). "The purpose was to inform Kennedy of the plans that were underway to bring down the Cuban Revolution and to introduce him to the future leaders of the neighboring country." (23)

As David Corn, the author of Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades (1994) has pointed out: "Agency officials... plotted fanciful schemes against Castro. The brainstorming was extreme. One imaginative CIA thinker proposed spraying Castro's broadcasting studio with a hallucinogenic chemical. The geniuses of the Technical Services Division (TSD) produced a box of cigars treated with a substance that would lead a smoker to become temporarily disoriented... In the summer of 1960, the craftsmen of TSD contaminated a box of Castro's favorite cigars with a lethal toxin. But the cigars never made it to Castro." (24)

In September 1960, Bissell and Dulles initiated talks with two leading figures of the Mafia, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Later, other crime bosses such as Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky became involved in this plot against Castro. Robert Maheu, a private investigator and occasional CIA operative, was put in charge of a conspiracy to spike Castro's food with poison. The plan was abandoned when Castro stopped visiting the Havana restaurant where he was to be poisoned. (25)

According to an investigation carried out by Frank Church and his United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities in 1976, there were during a five year period when there was "concrete evidence of at least eight plots involving the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro". (26) After a newspaper report by Drew Pearson appeared on 3rd March, 1967, about these assassination plots, President Lyndon Johnson, ordered Richard Helms, the Director of the CIA, for a detailed account of the CIA's plots to assassinate Castro. The completed report was delivered to Johnson on 10th May, 1967. Johnson later commented to a friend: "We were running a damn Murder Incorporated in the Caribbean." (27)

Richard Nixon was angry with the CIA for briefing John F. Kennedy about how the United States was falling dangerously behind the Soviets in the nuclear arms race during the election campaign. (28) This put Nixon on the defensive, as did Kennedy's clarion call to support Cuban "freedom fighters" in their crusade to take back the island from Castro. This put Nixon in a very difficult position because he could not tell the public that he had already told the CIA he supported their secret plan to invade Cuba. (29)

JFK brought this issue up during the fourth and final presidential television debate in the campaign. Nixon wrote in his memoirs: "I had no choice but to take a completely opposite stand and attack Kennedy's advocacy to open intervention in Cuba. I shocked and disappointed many of my own supporters... In the debate, Kennedy conveyed the image - to 60 million people - that he was tougher on Castro and communism than I was." (30)

Kennedy won a narrow victory in November, 1960. Some of Kennedy's liberal supporters like John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, worried about the consequences of promising to help free Cuba. Kennedy had "succeeded in banishing the Democrats' image of Stevensonian weakness and replacing it with a vigorous new muscularity". The hawks now expected the new president to deliver. One of Kennedy's advisors, Harris Wofford, commented: "He had one hand in the cold war and one foot in a new world he saw coming; one hand in the old politics he had begun to master, one in the new politics that his campaign had invoked." (31)

Dwight D. Eisenhower made his last speech as president on 17th January, 1961. Probably the most controversial speech of his career he gave the American people a serious warning about the situation that faced them: "Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence - economic, political, even spiritual - is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." (32)

It has been claimed that Eisenhower's military-industrial complex speech was a warning to Kennedy about the real sources of power in the United States and the pressure he had been under to order an armed invasion of Cuba. Senior figures in the CIA believed that Kennedy would support their plans for dealing with Castro. The journalist, Joseph Alsop, arranged for Kennedy to meet Richard Bissell, the CIA officer in charge of this anti-Cuba task force. Bissell later wrote: "I found Kennedy to be bright, and he raised a number of topics on which I had something to say... I told him truthfully (although perhaps a little inappropriately since I was part of the current administration) that I agreed with most of his philosophy." (33) David Atlee Phillips, another senior CIA officer, also supported Kennedy: "I had voted for Kennedy, and all seemed right with the world." (34)

Bay of Pigs

A few days after Kennedy's victory, Bissell wrote to his close friend Edmond G. Thomas: "I am glad it came out as it did. I found less to choose between the two candidates than many of my friends, but I think Kennedy is surrounded by a group of men with a much livelier awareness than the Republicans of the extreme crisis that we are living in... What I really mean is that the Democrats will be far less inhibited in trying to do something about it. My guess is that Washington will be more lively and interesting place in which to live and work." (35)

In December, 1960, Bissell received a disturbing intelligence report, Prospects for the Castro Regime. It claimed that Castro remained "firmly in control" of Cuba and that "internal opposition" was "still generally ineffective". It also noted that although anti-Castro guerrilla groups were operating in the Escambray Mountains region and in the Oriente province, the "regime has reacted vigorously and has thus been able to contain" them. The report concluded that Castro would continue to consolidate his control over Cuba: "Organized opposition appears to lack the strength and coherence to pose a major threat to the regime, and we foresee no development in the internal political situation which would be likely to bring about a critical shift of popular opinion away from Castro." (36)

The CIA plan to invade Cuba, code-named JMARC (the Pentagon called it Operation ZAPATA), landed on John Kennedy's desk before he was sworn in as president. It was based on an earlier plan that had been suggested to President Eisenhower in March 1960. Bissell and the Director of the CIA, Allen W. Dulles briefed the president-elect on the project on 18th November. Bissell was later to recall that he was struck by Kennedy's impassiveness. "He seemed neither for nor against the operation. He expressed surprise only at the scale of it.... What had begun in the spring of 1960 as a plan to infiltrate a few dozen commandos to slip into the jungle and join the resistance had become by November a full-scale invasion - several hundred men storming a beachhead, backed up by air support." (37)

Bissell told President Kennedy and Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State, of the operational plan and described how the Cuban exiles (Brigade 2506) would land and secure a beachhead close to a town named Trinidad, on the southern shore of the island some 350 miles from Havana. Rusk objected at once. He said that attempting a landing near a big town like Trinidad would inevitably attract a great deal of publicity. He was not enthusiastic about the operation at all, but if it did not have to take place, he insisted on a more obscure landing place as it would look like a genuine guerilla operation. Bissell was also unable to guarantee that the invasion would definitely result in the overthrow of Castro. Bissell said: "We have reports it will, but how can you possibly tell?" (38)

Those involved in the CIA operation to overthrow Castro included Ted Shackley, Desmond FitzGerald, David Sanchez Morales, Henry Hecksher, William King Harvey, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Tracy Barnes and William (Rip) Robertson. An interesting recruit was Carl E. Jenkins. According to Larry Hancock, "Jenkins came into the Cuba project in 1960 and served with it until the Bay of Pigs; he performed selection and training of paramilitary cadre, selected officers, and managed small teams and individual agents in maritime infiltration of Cuba." (39)

Rip Robertson in 1961
William (Rip) Robertson

Kennedy repeatedly expressed his concern about the Cuban operation. His official directive called for nothing more than landing volunteers in Cuba and covertly supporting them. In March, 1961, he held a reception for Latin American Diplomats and Members of Congress. In his speech he launched the proposed Alliance for Progress with Central and South America. "We meet together as firm and ancient friends, united by history and experience and by our determination to advance the values of American civilization. For this new world of ours is not merely an accident of geography. Our continents are bound together by a common history - the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle - the revolt from colonial rule. And our people share a common heritage - the quest for the dignity and the freedom of man.... As a citizen of the United States let me be the first to admit that we North Americans have not always grasped the significance of this common mission, just as it is also true that many in your own countries have not fully understood the urgency of the need to lift people from poverty and ignorance and despair. But we must turn from these mistakes - from the failures and the misunderstandings of the past - to a future full of peril but bright with hope.... And if we are successful, if our effort is bold enough and determined enough, then the close of this decade will mark the beginning of a new era in the American experience... every American Republic will be the master of its own revolution and its own hope and progress." (40)

Kennedy realised that the Alliance for Progress would not get off to a very good start if the United States used a CIA backed force to overthrow the Cuban government. Kennedy was also worried that if he went after Castro, Nikita Khrushchev might make a move against Berlin. On the other hand, he did not want to blamed by members of the Republican Party for "chickening out" or going soft on communism. Kennedy therefore decided "to take half measures in and all-or-nothing situation." (41)

On 3rd April, 1961, Kennedy met secretly with a dozen of his top advisers. He also brought with him Senator William Fulbright, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Fulbright made a moral argument against the United States sponsoring secret invasions of other countries. His contribution upset others in the room. Some, like Paul Nitze, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, found themselves voting for the invasion, not because they really believed in it, but because they disliked Fulbright's arguments. Adolf Berle, the State Department specialist on Latin America, cried out, "I say, let 'er rip!" (42)

Bissell was encouraged by the meeting. He felt he had finally been given approval, although Kennedy reserved the right to make a final decision on the eve of the invasion. However, Bissell was worried by Kennedy's attitude towards the invasion. "Without anyone's realizing it, however, there was something of an undercurrent in the government that was serving to undermine what chances the operation had... On at least two occasions (reported to me by eyewitnesses), some of the Joint Chiefs said they felt the CIA was exaggerating the need for air cover for the landing... I was shocked. We all knew only too well that without air support the project would fail." (43)

Kennedy told Bissell that it was vitally important that the United States government could not be connected to the invasion of Cuba. Bissell tried to change his approach by approaching the president's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Bissell said that without air cover the odds of success as only two out of three. Soon afterwards, the New York Times reported that the United States was training Cuban exiles for an imminent invasion. Kennedy feared that the CIA was leaking information to the press. He told his press secretary, Pierre Salinger: "I can't believe what I'm reading! Castro doesn't need agents over here. All he has to do is read our papers." (44)

David Atlee Phillips and Tracy Barnes developed an elaborate cover story to give the impression that the air strikes on Cuba would to be an inside job - originating from Cuba, not from the CIA's secret air base in Nicaragua. After the raid a pair of B-26s would land in Florida, piloted by Cubans claiming to be defectors. They would tell newsmen that they had bombed and shot up their own airfields on the flight to freedom. On Saturday morning, 15th April, 1961, eight B-26s out of Nicaragua, manned by Cuban pilots, bombed three of Castro's airfields. After the air raids Cuba was left with only eight planes and seven pilots. (45)

Later that day Raúl Roa García, the Cuban foreign minister, demanded the floor of the United Nations General Assembly to declare that his country had been bombed by U.S. aircraft. Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. representative, held up a photograph of one of the planes that had landed in Florida. "It has the markings of Castro's air force on the tail, which everyone can see for himself. The Cuban star and the initials F.A.R., Fuerza Aerea Revolucionaria, are clearly visible." Phillips watched the speech on television and commented "what a smooth phony he is". Then it occurred to him that Stevenson didn't know the truth and had not been fully briefed by Tracy Barnes about the operation. (46)

The cover story began to peel away almost immediately. As Terence Cannon pointed out: "Nine CIA planes had taken off that morning from Puerto Cabezas (Nicaragua): eight for Cuba and one directly to Miami... each plane bore an imitation of the Cuban Air Force insignia. The single pilot bound for Miami was to arrive there just after the others had bombed Cuba... An enterprising reporter got close enough to his plane to notice that dust and grease covered the bomb-bay doors and that the muzzles of the guns were taped shut. The plane had obviously not participated in any attack." (47)

Stevenson was furious as he felt that he had been "deliberately tricked" by his own government and sent a cable to Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State: "I had definite impression from Tracy Barnes when he was here that no action would be taken which could give us political difficulty during current U.N. debate.... I do not understand how we could let such an attack take place two days before debate on Cuban issue in the General Assembly. Nor can I understand, if we could not prevent such an outside attack from taking place at the time, why I could not have been warned." (48)

On 17th April, five merchant ships carrying 1,400 Cuban exiles headed for the Bay of Pigs. The director of the CIA, Allen W. Dulles was in Puerto Rico during the invasion. He left Charles Cabell in charge. Instead of ordering the second air raid he checked with Dean Rusk. He contacted Kennedy who said he did not remember being told about the second raid. After discussing it with Rusk he decided to cancel it. Instead the operation tried to rely on Radio Swan, broadcasts being made on a small island in the Caribbean by David Atlee Phillips, calling for the Cuban Army to revolt. They failed to do this. Instead they called out the militia to defend the fatherland from "American mercenaries”. (49)

At 6:30 a.m. one of the Brigade 2506's landing ships, the Houston, was hit at the waterline by a rocket fired from Cuba. The ship quickly began to sink. At 9:30 a.m. a second ship of the invasion force, the Rio Escondo, went up in a giant fireball. Castro's planes had hit 200 hundred barrels of aviation fuel. A communications van sank with the ship, cutting off any air-land radio contact. Castro also deployed columns of soldiers and tanks to resist the invasion. By Monday afternoon, the battle had clearly turned against the Brigade. (50)

Richard Bissell later wrote: "The president's decision to cancel the D day air strikes, the limited availability of aircraft and crews, and an air arm forbidden by the president to engage in strategic bombing meant that some of Castro's air force survived and sank two supply ships. This was a turning point for the brigade since the remainder of the supply ships withdrew to a position some fifty miles offshore, where they were presumably out of range of further attack but unavailable to give logistical support. Without re-supply and air cover, the venture was doomed." (51)

Richard Helms, who was to replace Bissell as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Plans, also blamed President Kennedy for the Bay of Pigs disaster. "The ZAPATA Brigade force seized a beachhead along the Bay of Pigs - the original and more feasible landing area having been vetoed by President Kennedy. Two days and some hours later, the surviving 1189 members of the attack force were still contained within the beachhead. After President Kennedy refused to provide the desperately needed additional air support and their ammunition was almost exhausted, the men had no choice but to surrender." (52)

Ted Shackley, another senior figure in the CIA involved in the operation, pointed out: "Covert action is not a weapon that intelligence services can wield at will. Spymasters may be called upon to help kings and field marshals with their intrigues, but the latter call the shots. And a corollary to this is that no covert-action operation mounted by an intelligence service has much chance of success if it is not solidly supported at the highest levels of government and coordinated with the leadership's other means of persuasion - diplomatic, military and propagandistic." (53)

On 20th April, 1961, Bissell told President Kennedy that the Brigade was trapped on the beaches and encircled by Castro's forces. Bissell asked for United States air support but Kennedy replied that he still wanted "minimum visibility". However, he did authorize a wide variety of military action including cover over the beach, but Bissell failed to organize it successively. At 2:32 on Wednesday afternoon Pepe San Román, the Brigade's commander, reported that Castro's tanks were breaking through. His last message was "Am destroying all equipment and communications. I have nothing left to fight with. Am taking to the swamps. I can't wait for you." To his CIA handler, safely aboard ship, he had a last farewell: "And you, sir," he said, "are a son of a bitch." (54)

Kennedy had presided at all the discussions, and from the moment the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave the operation their approval, he had given it his full presidential backing. On 21st April, Kennedy admitted blame for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion: "There's an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan ... Further statements, detailed discussions, are not to conceal responsibility because I'm the responsible officer of the Government." (55)

An estimated 67 Cuban exiles from Brigade 2506 were killed in action. Aircrews killed totaled 6 from the Cuban air force, 10 Cuban exiles and 4 American airmen. This included Pete Ray, a CIA officer. The final toll in Cuban armed forces during the conflict was 176 killed in action. This figure includes only the Cuban Army and it is estimated that about 2,000 militiamen were killed or wounded during the fighting. The airfield attacks on 15 April left 7 Cubans dead and 53 wounded. (56)

The Cuban government carried out a detailed investigation into the 1,197 captured troops. It was claimed they were composed of: 100 plantation owners, 67 landlords of apartment houses, 24 large property owners, 112 businessmen, 194 ex-soldiers of Batista (including 14 wanted for murder and torture during the revolutionary war), 179 "idle rich" and 35 industrial magnates. Together they owned 923,000 acres of land, 9,666 houses and apartment buildings, 70 factories, 10 sugar mills, 3 banks, 5 mines and 12 nightclubs. (57)

However, behind the scenes, it was decided that the director of the CIA, Allen W. Dulles, should take most of the blame for the failed operation. President Kennedy suggested Dulles should resign. He refused claimed that Robert F. Kennedy was the one to go as he had been the main figure calling on Castro to be removed. Eventually it was agreed that Dulles should stay on for a few months and that his resignation would not seem like a sacking for his role in the Bay of Pigs disaster. John McCone replaced him on 29th November, 1961. (58)

Executive Action

In the winter of 1961, Richard Bissell told McGeorge Bundy, Kennedy's National Security Adviser, that he was setting up an "executive action capability" against Fidel Castro. It was pointed out by Ted Shackley that "the CIA had toppled foreign regimes before: in Iran in 1953, in Guatemala in 1954... But with this difference: Whereas in three previous cases our interventions had been motivated by considerations of cold war advantage, the driving force now was personal vendetta. President Kennedy and his brother Robert, smarting from the humiliation of their failure at the Bay of Pigs, wanted to remove Fidel Castro from the picture, no matter whether by palace revolt, military coup, popular uprising, or assassination." (59)

Of course, it could be argued that the testimony of CIA people such as Shackley should not be trusted. It is definitely true the CIA was very keen to show that it was the Kennedy brothers who were behind the plot to assassinate Castro. However, it is true that after the Bay of Pigs disaster, President John F. Kennedy created a committee, Special Group Augmented (SGA), that was charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included Allen W. Dulles (CIA Director, later replaced by John McCone), Ural Alexis Johnson (State Department), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attending meetings. (60)

Operation Mongoose was agreed at a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961. It was a covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) and a former CIA agent, should be placed in charge of the operation. Lansdale later regretted accepting the job. "I think the thing that hurt me most in the long run was the task that Kennedy gave me on Cuba." (61)

According to the Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders An Interim Report of the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operation (1976), in an early meeting of SGA, Robert Kennedy insisted that "a solution to the Cuban problem today carries top priority." He asserted that no amount of "time, money, effort or manpower" was too great if its expenditure helped achieve Castro's downfall. (62) "So far as possible, Lansdale wanted SGA to rely on professional anti-castro emigres, labor leaders, youth and church groups, and 'gangster elements' to carry out any tasks the group approved... Lansdale tried to introduce a new perspective. The administration should adopt real revolutionary tactics." (63)

Jake Esterline, the head of the Cuba task force in pre-Bay of Pigs days, also highlighted the role played by the Attorney General in the proposed removal of Castro. In an interview he gave to Don Bohning of the The Miami Herald just before his death, Esterline said that he was in "no doubt that Kennedy knew of the assassination plot" against Fidel Castro. Esterline admitted that Juan Orta, "who functioned as Castro's private secretary, had been recruited to slip a poisoned pill into a drink. However, a few days before the invasion Orta changed his mind and fled to the Venezuelan Embassy." (64)

The CIA JM/WAVE station in Miami served as operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose. One of Lansdale's first decisions was to appoint William King Harvey as head of Task Force W with the brief to bring down Castro's government. He also ran the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Castro under the CIA's Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power), part of which had the code name ZR/RIFLE. (65) Harvey later told the Senate Committee chaired by Frank Church that Robert Kennedy wanted his agency to overthrow Castro entirely with covert means and without the slightest taint of American involvement. (66)

Some figures close to President John F. Kennedy are adamant that he refused to give permission for agents to assassinate Castro. Tad Szulc, a close friend, had lunch with the Kennedys on 9th November, 1961, when suddenly, the "President leaned forward and asked me, 'What would you think if I ordered Castro to be assassinated?' I said this would be terrible idea because (a) it probably wouldn't do away with regime; on contrary it would strengthen it, and (b) I felt personally US had no business in assassinations. JFK then said he was testing me, that he felt the same way... JFK said he raised question because he was under terrific pressure from advisers (think he said intelligence people, but not positive) to okay a Castro murder. Said he was resisting pressures." (67)

David Kaiser, the author of The Road to Dallas (2008) suggests that the President did know about the CIA plan to assassinate Castro. "While Kennedy's participation in planning the Bay of Pigs is clear, his involvement in CIA assassination plots is harder to establish precisely. But at some point he became aware that the idea of eliminating Castro was being pursued by the CIA, and he apparently did not try to stop it... Evidence suggests that President Kennedy himself was informed at least generally about the ongoing assassination plots against Castro (and thus, quite possibly, about the Trujillo plot as well) before the Bay of Pigs invasion."

Kaiser points out that October 1961 Kennedy requested a secret report on the impact on Cuba of Fidel Castro's sudden death. The following month, Robert A. Hurwitch of the State Department drafted a long memorandum "to determine the courses of action which the U.S. would follow with reference to Cuba in the event of Fidel Castro's death in order to insure the replacement of the Castro regime with a friendly government." Kaiser claims that Kennedy came to the conclusion that "assassinating Castro could be accomplished far more easily than the gigantic task of creating an effective revolutionary movement, and the American military presumably could, it turned loose with a suitable pretext, finish the job of dealing with his decapitated regime." (68)

On 15th November, 1961, Richard Bissell told William King Harvey, that he was going to be taking over the Castro assassination project from Sheffield Edwards. By April 1962, Johnny Roselli told the CIA that Tony Varona, a Cuban politician who had joined with Manuel Artime to form the anti-Castro organisation, the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution, was willing to make another assassination attempt in return for some arms and equipment. Harvey met Varona in Miami and gave him poison capsules and supervised the transfer of a truckload of arms provided by Ted Shackley, chief of Miami's CIA Station JMWAVE. (69)

Richard Helms, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Plans, later admitted that John McCone, head of the CIA was not told of this plan to assassinate Castro. As he explained assassination plots are not part of a discussion among "a large group of people sitting around a table in the United States government". He added: In other words, when you establish a clandestine service as was established in the Central Intelligence Agency, you established something that was totally different from anything else in the United States government. Whether it's right that you should have it, or wrong that you should have it, it works under different rules than any other part of the government." (70)

General Fabian Escalante, the head of a counter-intelligence in the Department of State Security (G-2), became aware that Tony Varona had sent a three man team into Cuba. The men were "from the commando unit from Miami with the collaboration of the omnipresent Mafia". Escalante also described a plot organized by a CIA agent, Norberto Martinez, who had entered Cuba in early 1962. Maria Leopoldina Grau Alsina, the niece of the former President Ramón Grau San Martín, also became involved in the plot. She told Alberto Cruz Caso that "our task consists of finding a person who can give the poison to Fidel without arousing suspicion." (71)

J. S. Earman, the Inspector General of the CIA, was asked in 1967 to carry out an investigation into the plot to kill Fidel Castro. He interviewed 21 people including Desmond FitzGerald, Samuel Halpern, William King Harvey, Jake Esterline, Sidney Gottlieb, Sheffield Edwards, Richard Bissell, Lawrence R. Houston, Joseph Caldwell King, Cornelius Roosevelt, James O'Connell, Alfonso Rodriguez, Edward M. Gunn, Howard J. Osborn, John W. Warner, Robert Bannerman and Nestor D. Sanchez. The names of four of those interviewed were redacted from the report.

In a memorandum dated 25th April 1967, Earman notified Richard Helms: "We cannot overemphasize the extent to which responsible Agency officers felt themselves subject to the Kennedy administration's severe pressures to do something about Castro and his regime. The fruitless and, in retrospect, often unrealistic plotting should be viewed in that light.... After the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 and the collapse of Project Mongoose, the aggressive scheme that was begun in August 1960 and revived in April 1962 was finally terminated in early 1963. Two other plots were originated in 1963, but both were impracticable and nothing ever came of them." (72)

The two plots in 1963 were organised by Desmond FitzGerald and Samuel Halpern and involved William Harvey (who denied it) and included a contaminated skin diving suit that was to be given as a present to Castro and an explosives-rigged sea shell. However, there is strong evidence of another, far more serious plot in 1963, that targeted Castro. Why was this not included in Earman's report? Is it because it was connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy? The answer to this could be found in the fact that four people interviewed by Earman had their names redacted from the report. Is it really credible that Earman did not interview Ted Shackley, the head of the CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami, and the operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose, and the home of the ZR/RIFLE, an operation that is written about in some detail in the report (Phase 2: February-March 1962). (73)

If Shackley is one of the names redacted from the report, who were the other three? I believe other possible names include Carl E. Jenkins, David Sanchez Morales, Henry Hecksher, David Atlee Phillips, and Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero. Is it possible that these people were involved in the 1963 plot to kill Castro that the CIA wanted to keep secret. Why is it important for the CIA to keep secret a failed attempt to kill Castro? The reason for this could be connected to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and could help to explain Robert Kennedy's phone call to Enrique (Harry) Ruiz-Williams, and his comment, "One of your guys did it." (74)

AM/WORLD Project

The plot against Castro in 1963 that the Inspector General of the CIA's report ignores is the AM/WORLD project. The first AM/WORLD document that has been released was a five-page memo prepared on 28th June, 1963. It was sent by Joseph Caldwell King, Chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. "This will serve to alert you to the inception of AM/WORLD, a new CIA program targeted against Cuba. Some manifestations of activity resulting from this program may come to your notice before long... The Kennedy Administration, it should be emphasized, is willing to accept the risks involved in utilizing autonomous Cuban exile groups and individuals who are not necessarily responsive to CIA guidance and to face up to the consequences which are unavoidable in lowering professional standards adhered to by autonomous groups (as compared with fully controlled and disciplined agent assets) is bound to entail." (75)

The document goes on to point out that the "CIA will confine itself to supporting the efforts" of Manuel Artime and his exile group. "Artime will be in touch with a senior CIA officer, operating under a fully documented alias, who is to serve as his adviser and hopefully as his sole direct link with the Kennedy Administration." In fact, it was not Artime but Enrique (Harry) Ruiz-Williams who would be in direct contact with Robert Kennedy. Lamar Waldron has pointed out that the CIA was being somewhat disingenuous as Artime had been working with the CIA since 1959, when he attempted his first CIA-backed coup against Castro. "But, what was different about AM/WORLD was that Artime - and the others - were now taking orders not from the CIA, but from Bobby Kennedy". (76)

The AM/WORLD memo (104-10315-10004) was declassified on 27th January, 1999, and discovered by Stuart Wexler in 2004 and he showed it to the author, Larry Hancock. With the help of researchers such as Malcolm Blunt, Hancock obtained the names of other CIA officers involved in AM/WORLD. Hancock points out that AM/WORLD had its own separate operations staff based in Miami and Mexico City. The head of AM/WORLD and Artime's case officer was Henry Hecksher. The ranking exile under Artime was Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero who worked closely with CIA paramilitary officer, Carl E. Jenkins, the was military advisor to the AM/WORLD project. David Atlee Phillips was designated to organize safe houses and related activities for AM/WORLD. Other CIA officers who attended AM/WORLD and AM/TRUCK (an effort to produce an internal revolution against Castro in Cuba) meetings, included Ted Shackley and David Sanchez Morales. (77)

Morales with his key role heading CIA Operations in Miami, had a hand in all the CIA actions against Castro in 1963. Bradley Ayers, a US Army Ranger (Special Forces) Captain who was assigned to the CIA JMWAVE station to train Cuban commandos and who worked for the Special Group Augmented (SGA), later claimed that "Morales held sway with Ted Shackley and dominated the entire operational agenda at the CIA Station.... Morales was often demonstrably irritated with changes to planned covert/paramilitary operations that were handed down by CIA headquarters at Langley or by orders from Bobby Kennedy's Special Group that seemed to be micro-managing the secret war against Castro." (78)

When Robert Kennedy telephoned Enrique (Harry) Ruiz-Williams and told him, "One of your guys did it" he was obviously talking about the AM/WORLD project. Why would an operation set up to kill Castro be turned against President Kennedy? As the Ayers statement above shows, some senior figures in the CIA were upset by the attorney general's involvement in the plot against Castro. This was partly because the CIA believed that the Kennedy administration was not completely committed to removing Castro. In fact, they had evidence that Kennedy was involved in secret negations with Castro. This was revealed when on the 24th November, 2003, the National Security Archives released a collection of documents on these negotiations. (79)

Negotiations with Castro

William Attwood, was a journalist who held progressive political opinions. For example, in 1956, he had a meeting with Aneurin Bevan, at the time, Britain's most prominent left-wing politician. In his autobiography, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) he wrote: "When I asked what he (Bevan) thought was Western diplomacy's greatest mistake since World War II, he replied: 'The assumption, from 1950 on, that the Russians were preparing a war of aggression so soon after emerging from the devastating war against Germany. This crippled the West financially by forcing us to spend billions on useless weapons'. But he was moderately hopeful about the future: 'If mankind survives the next twenty years, it will survive the next twenty thousand... The capitalist and Communist nations have, for the first time, a common interest. They must both avoid war'... Unfortunately, Bevan never did become foreign secretary, but we can take comfort in his prediction." (80)

In 1959, Attwood was foreign editor of Look Magazine. However, he decided to leave this post to work on the 1960 presidential campaign and was employed as a speech writer for John F. Kennedy. In 1961, Kennedy appointed him as ambassador to Guinea and in 1963 served with the U.S. delegation to the United Nations. In this post Attwood was the leading advocate inside the Kennedy Administration for talking to Fidel Castro about the potential for improving relations. He was supported by McGeorge Bundy, who suggested to Kennedy and the National Security Council that there should be a "gradual development of some form of accommodation with Castro". (81)

In April 1963 Lisa Howard arrived in Cuba to make a documentary on the country. In an interview with Howard, Castro agreed that a rapprochement with Washington was desirable. On her return Howard met with the Central Intelligence Agency. Deputy Director Richard Helms reported to President Kennedy on Howard's view that "Fidel Castro is looking for a way to reach a rapprochement with the United States." After detailing her observations about Castro's political power, disagreements with his colleagues and Soviet troops in Cuba, the memo concluded that "Howard definitely wants to impress the U.S. Government with two facts: Castro is ready to discuss rapprochement and she herself is ready to discuss it with him if asked to do so by the US Government." (82)

Lisa Howard and Fidel Castro
Lisa Howard and Fidel Castro in April 1963

CIA Director John McCone was strongly opposed to Howard being involved with these negotiations with Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. He argued that it might "leak and compromise a number of CIA operations against Castro". According to James W. Douglas, the author of JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) "the CIA wanted to block the door that could be seen opening through Howard's interview". (83) In a memorandum to McGeorge Bundy, McCone commented that the "Lisa Howard report be handled in the most limited and sensitive manner," and "that no active steps be taken on the rapprochement matter at this time." (84)

Arthur Schlesinger explained to Anthony Summers in 1978 why the CIA did not want President Kennedy to negotiate with Fidel Castro during the summer of 1963. He pointed out that the head of the CIA's Cuba unit, Desmond FitzGerald, masquerading as an American Senator, had told Rolando Cubela that a coup against Castro would have the full backing of the United States Government: "The CIA was reviving the assassination plots at the very time President Kennedy was considering the possibility of normalization of relations with Cuba - an extraordinary action. If it was not total incompetence - which in the case of the CIA cannot be excluded - it was a studied attempt to subvert national policy." (85)

Howard now decided to bypass the CIA and in May, 1963, published an article in the journal, War and Peace Report, Howard wrote that in eight hours of private conversations Castro had shown that he had a strong desire for negotiations with the United States: "In our conversations he made it quite clear that he was ready to discuss: the Soviet personnel and military hardware on Cuban soil; compensation for expropriated American lands and investments; the question of Cuba as a base for Communist subversion throughout the Hemisphere." Howard went on to urge the Kennedy administration to "send an American government official on a quiet mission to Havana to hear what Castro has to say." A country as powerful as the United States, she concluded, "has nothing to lose at a bargaining table with Fidel Castro." (86)

William Attwood read Howard's article the first week of September, 1963. He later wrote: "I read ABC correspondent, Lisa Howard’s article, Castro’s Overture, based on her conversation with Castro last April. This article stressed Castro’s expressed desire for reaching an accommodation with the United States and a willingness to make substantial concessions to this end. On September 12, I talked with Miss Howard, whom I have known for some years, and she echoed Ambassador Diallo’s opinion that there was a rift between Castro and the Guevara-Hart-Alveida group on the question of Cuba’s future course. (87)

John Kenneth Galbraith, the US Ambassador to India, suggested that if he wanted Kennedy's attention, Attwood should send a memorandum to Under Secretary of State Averell Harriman, asking for permission to establish discreet, indirect contact with Fidel Castro. "According to neutral diplomats I have talked to at the U.N., there is reason to believe that Castro is unhappy about his present dependence on the Soviet Union; that he does not enjoy in effect being a satellite; that our trade embargo is hurting him - though not enough to endanger his position; and that he would like to establish some official contact with the United States and would go to some length to obtain normalization of relations with us - even though this would not be welcomed by most of his hard-core Communist entourage." (88)

Attwood showed the memorandum to U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson. He was very supportive but warned that "unfortunately, the CIA is still in charge of Cuba". Stevenson agreed to pass it on to the President but "urged" him to talk to Robert F. Kennedy about possible talks with Castro. "Bob had been deeply involved in our Cuban relations and would expect to be consulted about this gambit; also, he had his brother's ear as did no one else.... I called Kennedy and got an appointment to see him on the twenty-fourth." (89)

Lisa Howard arranged a meeting between William Attwood and Carlos Lechuga, Cuba's representative to the United Nations. "On September 23, I (Attwood) met Dr. Lechuga at Miss Howard’s apartment. She has been on good terms with Lechuga since her visit with Castro and invited him for a drink to meet some friends who had also been to Cuba. I was just one of those friends. In the course of our conversation, which started with recollections of my own talks with Castro in 1959, I mentioned having read Miss Howard’s article. Lechuga hinted that Castro was indeed in a mood to talk. I told him that in my present position, I would need official authorization to make such a trip, and did not know if it would be forthcoming. However, I said an exchange of views might well be useful and that I would find out and let him know." (90)

At his meeting with Robert Kennedy on the 24th September, 1963, Attwood explained his proposal for talks with Castro: "He said my going to Cuba, as Lechuga had mentioned, was too risky - it was bound to leak - and if nothing came of it the Republicans would call it appeasement and demand a congressional investigations. But he thought the matter was worth pursuing at the U.N. and perhaps even with Castro some place outside Cuba. He said he'd consult with Harriman and McGeorge Bundy." (91)

On 27th September, Attwood met Lechuga in the U.N. Delegates' Lounge "always a good place for discreet encounters because of its noise and confusion" and told him that he had "discussed our talk in Washington" but admitted it would be difficult for him, in his present capacity as a government official, to accept an invitation to Cuba. However, he had been told by Kennedy that he had authorization to talk to anyone who came to Washington from Havana. Lechuga said he would pass the message to Castro. He also warned Attwood that he was making a tough anti-American speech on 7th October, but he should tell Kennedy not to take it too seriously." (92)

Lechuga later explained: "Kennedy speaking through McGeorge Bundy said there should be an agenda for dialogue with Cuba. Of course I sent all the information of these conversations with Attwood to Havana. In Havana, the responses were delayed. According to Attwood's perception, the responses were very slow. He wanted to accelerate the process somewhat. Havana was moving too slowly. And at this moment, without his knowledge, Lisa Howard called Cuba and spoke with Commandante Vallejo, who was the assistant to Fidel Castro. In order to try and accelerate the process. She had known him in Cuba before. To try to take advantage of her friendship with him, in order to try to get a quicker response from the Cubans." (93)

Attwood decided to use an old friend, Jean Daniel, the editor of the French socialist news-weekly L'Observateur, as a go-between. Attwood had lunch with Daniel on 3rd October, and told him about his talks with Lechuga. Attwood asked Ben Bradlee to arrange a meeting between Daniel and the president. This took place on 24th October. Kennedy blamed the pro-Batista policy in the fifties for "economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation" and added, "We'll have to pay for those sins." Kennedy told Daniel: "The continuation of our economic blockade depends on his continuation of subversive activities." Daniel wrote later: "I could see plainly that John Kennedy had doubts (about the government's policy on Cuba) and was seeking a way out." (94)

At the same time as Attwood was attempting to organize talks between Kennedy and Castro, the CIA was continuing with the AM/WORLD project. On 29th October, 1963, Desmond FitzGerald, the CIA official who had replaced William King Harvey as the agency's chief Cuba man, traveled to Paris to meet Rolando Cubela (code name AM/LASH). FitzGerald, posing as a U.S. Senator representing Attorney General Robert Kennedy, gave Cubela a poison pen device from the CIA's Operation Division of the Office of Medical Services: "a ball-point rigged with a hypodermic needle... designed to be so fine that the victim would not notice its insertion." (95)

Meanwhile, Castro's personal aide, Major René Vallejo, had become involved in the proposed negotiations. He phoned Lisa Howard on 29th October, and assured her that Castro was as eager as he had been during her visit in April to improve relations with the United States, but it was impossible for Castro to leave Cuba at that time to go to the UN or elsewhere for talks with a Kennedy representative. Howard replied that there was now a U.S. official authorized to listen to Castro. On 31st October Vallejo phoned Howard again saying "Castro would very much like to talk to the U.S. official anytime and appreciated the importance of discretion to all concerned." James W. Douglas has pointed out the phrase "to all concerned" was significant. "At this point Castro, like Kennedy and Khrushchev, was circumventing his own more bellicose government in order to talk with the enemy. Castro, too, was struggling to transcend his Cold War ideology for the sake of peace. Like Kennedy and Khrushchev, he had to walk softly." (96)

On 12th November, 1963, McGeorge Bundy recorded: "I talked this afternoon with William Attwood and told him that at the President's instruction I was conveying this message orally and not by cable... He (Kennedy) would prefer to begin with a visit by Vallego to the U.S. where Attwood would be glad to see him and to listen to any messages he might bring from Castro. In particular we would be interested in knowing whether there was any prospect of important modification in those parts of Castro's policy which are flatly unacceptable to us: namely, the points in Ambassador Stevenson's recent speech of which the central elements are (i) submission to external Communist influence, and (ii) a determined campaign of subversion directed at the rest of the Hemisphere." (97)

During the next few days Attwood tried to make contact with Vallego: "Finally, on the eighteenth, I spoke to him at 2 a.m. and told him the White House position. He said Castro would send instructions to Lechuga to discuss an agenda with me. He spoke fluent English and called me 'sir.' (Many years later, Castro told me he was listening in on our conversation.) I reported to Bundy in the morning. He said once an agenda had been agreed upon, the president would want to see me and decide what to say to Castro. He said the president would be making a brief trip to Dallas but otherwise planned to be in Washington." (98)

On 18th November, 1963, Kennedy gave a speech where he covered the situation in Cuba and appeared to be a message to Castro. He said that "a small band of conspirators" had made "Cuba a victim of foreign imperialism, an instrument of the policy of others, a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American Republics. This, and this alone, divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible. Once this barrier is removed, we will be ready and anxious to work with the Cuban people in pursuit of those progressive goals which a few short years ago stirred their hopes and the sympathy of many people throughout the hemisphere." (99)

Jean Daniel arrived in Cuba at the beginning of November. His first attempts to meet with Castro ended in failure. He was told that he was very busy and had no desire to talk to Western journalists. On 19th November, Castro suddenly turned up at Daniel's hotel. He had been informed that Daniel had met Kennedy on 24th October and was eager to learn the details of their conversation. "Castro knew from the secret Attwood-Lechuga meetings that Kennedy was reaching out to him. In fact even as Daniel was trying to see Castro, Castro had been trying to firm up negotiations with Kennedy through Lisa Howard and William Attwood." (100)

Daniel later recalled: "Fidel listened with devouring and passionate interest... Three times he had me repeat certain remarks, particularly those in which Kennedy showed his impatience with the comments attributed to General de Galle, and lastly those in which Kennedy accused Fidel of having almost caused a war fatal to all humanity." Castro told Daniel: "I haven't forgotten that Kennedy centered his electoral campaign against Nixon on the theme of firmness toward Cuba... But I feel that he inherited a difficult situation; I don't think a President of the United States is ever really free, and I believe he now understands the extent to which he has been misled, especially, for example, on Cuban reaction at the time of the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion... I know that for Khrushchev, Kennedy is a man you can talk with. I have gotten this impression from all my conversations with Khrushchev." (101)

Assassination of John F. Kennedy

On 22nd November, 1963, a "CIA official was meeting with a Cuban agent in Paris and giving him an assassination device for use against Castro". Once again he said he was acting in the name of the Attorney General. (102) William Attwood says there is no evidence that Kennedy knew about this. "And indeed, what motive would either of them have in plotting the death of someone they were planning to communicate with?" (103) James W. Douglas, agrees and has suggested that by hiring Rolando Cubela in the name of "Robert Kennedy to assassinate Castro laid the foundation for the repeated claim that Castro, to preempt the threat on his own life, ordered JFK's murder - and that RFK had therefore triggered his own brother's assassination." (104)

Later that day Daniel met Castro again in his summer home on Varadero Beach. At 1:30 pm the phone rang. It was President Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado with news that Kennedy had been shot. When he hung up the phone, Castro repeated three times, "This is bad news". Soon afterwards a second phone call said that Kennedy was still alive and could be saved. Castro replied that "if they can, he is already re-elected." Just before 2:00 pm, news came that Kennedy was dead. Castro stood up, looked at Daniel, and said, "Everything is changed. Everything is going to change." (105)

William Attwood immediately suspected that the CIA and its anti-Castro activists were behind the assassination of Kennedy. He wrote in a memorandum that evening: "If the CIA did find out what we were doing, this would have trickled down to the lower echelon of activists, and Cuban exiles, and the more gung-ho CIA people who had been involved since the Bay of Pigs. If word of a possible normalization of relations with Cuba leaked to these people, I can understand why they would have reacted so violently. This was the end of their dreams of returning to Cuba, and they might have been impelled to take violent action. Such as assassinating the President." (106)

Arthur Schlesinger, Special Assistant to the President, took a similar view. He told Anthony Summers: "I think the CIA must have known about this initiative. They must certainly have realized that Bill Attwood and the Cuban representative to the U.N. were doing more than exchanging daiquiri recipes…They had all the wires tapped at the Cuban delegation to the United Nations… Undoubtedly if word leaked of President Kennedy’s efforts, that might have been exactly the kind of thing to trigger some explosion of fanatical violence. It seems to me a possibility not to be excluded." (107)

Attwood and Schlesinger both suspected the CIA's anti-Castro activists because they were aware of JFK's secret negotiations with Castro. RFK agreed with them for the same reason. However, unlike them, he seemed to know the people involved. The CIA agents and assets who were members of the AM/WORLD project. David Talbot argues that this realisation would have serious consequences for the investigation: "He was supposed to know where the darkness fell, and how to keep his brother safe from it. His brother's death was his fault - this is certainly another wound that his brother's killers aimed to inflict. For they knew it would not be enough to assassinate the president - they would have to find a way to stop his avenging brother from coming after them as well, to hobble him with guilt and doubt." (108)

Attwood worked behind the scenes in an effort to undermine the lone-gunman theory of the assassination. This included writing to Senator Richard Schweiker, who he urged to investigate the possible involvement of anti-Castro Cubans in the assassination. (109) Attwood told British TV producer Richard Tomlinson, that he suspected "disgruntled CIA operatives and Cuban exiles." According to Tomlinson, Attwood said "that the secret negotiations with Cuba were the last straw as far as the conspirators were concerned. It was then that they took the decision to kill Kennedy." (110)

Robert Kennedy felt he knew who had killed his brother but knew that if he attempted to expose the conspirators he would have to reveal that he had been part of a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. That would make it very difficult for him to become president at a future date. His strategy was to get elected before attempting to expose the conspirators. RFK told Peter Lawford, the husband of his sister, Patricia Helen Kennedy, that he thought JFK had been killed by a powerful plot that grew out of one of the government's secret anti-Castro operations. "Bobby reportedly told Lawford and other family members that there was nothing he could do at that point, since they were facing a formidable enemy and they no longer controlled the government." (111)

Robert Kennedy was himself assassinated on 6th June, 1968, when he was on the verge of becoming the Democratic Party presidential candidate for the 1968 election. Over the next few years the members of the the AM/WORLD project kept the silence about their activities in 1963. During this time some of the key figures in the operation died, including Desmond FitzGerald (1967), William (Rip) Robertson (1970) and Tracy Barnes (1972). The situation began to change in 1975 when Frank Church became the chairman of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. This committee investigated alleged abuses of power by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.

In September, 1975, a subcommittee under Richard Schweiker was asked to investigate the performance of the intelligence agencies concerning the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Schweiker asked Gaeton Fonzi to join his staff investigating the case. During an interview with Paul Bethel, who worked briefly at JMWAVE, the CIA station in Miami, he mentioned that David Sanchez Morales had also been there working in the "dirty tricks department" His description matched that of "El Indio, a massive American of Mexican and Indian extraction" that appeared in the book, The Night Watch (112).

Fonzi now interviewed the author, David Atlee Phillip and asked him about "El Indio". He now played down his role in the CIA and suggested that he had drunk himself to death. Fonzi also discovered from Bradley Ayers, a CIA agent who worked for the Special Group Augmented (SGA), that Morales was an important figure in undercover operations and closely associated with John Roselli. During an interview with Ted Shackley, he admitted that Morales was his Chief of Operations. Fonzi wrote: "The fact that David Morales, a key field operative for David Phillips, worked closely with John Roselli at the CIA's JM/WAVE station has a broad web of implications." (113)

It was important for Fonzi to get to Morales before he died. William King Harvey had died as a result of complications from heart surgery in June 1976. Roselli went missing the following month. He was to be one of the first people to be interviewed by the HSCA. According to Anthony Summers, "Roselli had reportedly informed the government that he believed his former associates in the Castro assassination plots had gone on to murder President Kennedy." Roselli went missing in July 1976, his body was later discovered in the Intracoastal Waterway in North Miami. He had been cut up and stuffed into a 55-gallon steel drum. "the drum was weighted with chains and punctured with holes, apparently intended to ensure that the gases from the corpse escaped and did not bring it to the surface." (114)

William Pawley committed suicide in January, 1977, after he had been asked to appear before the HSCA. This was followed by the death of Manuel Artime (November, 1977). The Arizona Range News reported the death of David Sanchez Morales as taking place on 8th May, 1978. It was not until 1992 that Gaeton Fonzi managed to find out what happened. He interviewed, Ruben Carbajal, a close friend of Morales who told him that he made a trip to Washington in early May, 1978. Carbajal had a drink with Morales a few days later. Carbajal told him he looked unwell. He replied: “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Ever since I left Washington I haven’t been feeling very comfortable”. That night he was taken to hospital. Carbajal went to visit him the next morning. As Carbajal later recalled: “They wouldn’t let no one in, they had his room surrounded by sheriff’s deputies.” Later that day the decision was taken to withdraw his life support. Morales’s wife, Joanne, requested that there should not be an autopsy. "I think the Government took good care of her," said Carbajal. (115)

Left to right: Bob and Florence Walton, David Morales, Joe Morales (father), Rose Morales (mother), Paul Morales (brother) and his wife (1977).
Left to right: Bob and Florence Walton, David Sanchez Morales, Joe Carbajal,
Rose Carbajal, Paul Carbajal and his wife. The photograph was taken by Ruben Carbajal. (1977)

Fonzi also interviewed Bob Walton, Morales's lawyer, in the presence of Ruben Carbajal. Walton claimed on one occasion he said something favourable about John Kennedy. With this Morales lost his temper: "He started yelling about what a wimp Kennedy was and talking about how he had worked on the Bay of Pigs and how he had to watch all the men he had recruited and trained get wiped out because of Kennedy." This tirade went on for several minutes before going quiet. "Then, as if saying it only to himself, he added: 'Well, we took care of that son of a bitch, didn't we?' I (Fonzi) looked at Ruben Carbajal, who had remained silent while Walton was telling me this. Carbajal looked at me and nodded his head." (116)

Further information against David Sanchez Morales came from Bradley E. Ayers who worked for a time at JM/WAVE, the CIA station in Miami. In a letter sent to John R. Tunheim, chairman of the Assassination Records Review Board, in August 1994, Ayers claimed that nine people based at JM/WAVE "have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy". Ayers named Morales, Theodore Shackley, Grayston Lynch, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, Gordon Campbell, Rip Robertson, Edward Roderick and Tony Sforza as the men who had this information. (117)

Bradley E. Ayers
Bradley E. Ayers

Over the next few years several CIA officers who knew about the AM/WORLD project died: Tony Sforza (1984) David Atlee Phillips (1988), Henry Hecksher (1990), Richard Bissell (1994), Ted Shackley (2002) and Richard Helms (2002). However, as a result of Malcolm Blunt finding an declassified document from the archives in 2003, it emerged that two key figures in the operation were still alive. It was a letter from Gene Wheaton to the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB). It included the following: "I am faxing you one page of a CV prepared by a retired CIA officer who was a very close friend of mine in the mid-1980s. Our friendship was so close that I kept a bedroom in his home in Adington, Va, socialized with him and his wife (a high-level active CIA officer) and was virtually with them 24 hours a day. Through him I met many of the Bay of Pigs veterans, both Cuban and American. We had many intimate discussions about covert operations, Kennedy assassination, etc. He was totally in charge of infiltrating sabotage and assassination teams into Cuba from 1960 onward... I had discussions with him and one of his key Cuban agents about obtaining immunity for them if they would come forward about their knowledge of involvement in the Kennedy assassination plots. This man's programs included JMWAVE, Mongoose, ZR-RIFLE, among others, operating out of the Miami Station." (118)

Anne Buttimer, chief Investigator for the ARRB, had contact with Wheaton on 11th July, 1995. "Wheaton began by telling me he would only give me limited information over the telephone although he was willing to meet me face to face to provide as much information as he had. He said he had no physical proof of what he would eventually tell the Board; however he said he does have a number of documents which he will need to show me in order for me to believe what he has to say. By way of providing background on himself Wheaton explained he is a 59 year old retired military intelligence officer. He works as a consultant investigating terrorist attacks around the world and said he expects his telephone will ring in the next few days with an offer to work on the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He said if this happens he will also probably be called to Washington DC and would meet with me here. If he does not he would still agree to meet with us but would have to do so on the West Coast. He lives in Riverside County, California near Palm Springs."

According to Buttimer's notes: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was 'recruited into Ollie North's network' by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age. Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People 'above the Cubans' wanted JFK killed for other reasons."

Wheaton said that Buttimer must look at his friend and his associates in order to know what really happened to JFK. One of those associates was Isaac Irving Davidson who "was/is the bag man for the intelligence community." He added that Davidson runs a group called the Timber Center which handles payoffs and payments for the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. "Wheaton said he would speak to the Board confidentially but would not allow his name to be used publicly because his friend and the friend's associates 'said they would destroy me in the media with a blitz of disinformation to destroy my professional reputation. They will make me out to be a conspiracy nut. I'm not afraid of them, I've been a cop too long and besides, they only kill the people on the inner circle. The rest of us end up having our reputations destroyed'. Wheaton concluded by saying "this matter is not complex but it is convoluted. I need to show you the paper trail to show the contacts of these people." (119)

The following year Wheaton wrote another letter to the ARRB. "Ref the attached letters from your former Chief Investigator Anne Buttimer, dated 16 May 95, and 12 July 1995. Ms Buttimer and I had several contacts by phone/fax as well as the meeting on 11 July 95, in the Washington, D.C. area. At the July meeting I furnished her with rather sensitive documents, photos, and information related to the CIA covert connections to Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico during the months and years prior to, and after, the assassination in Dallas. During and after the July 95 meeting Ms. Buttimer stated she wanted to follow-up and expand on the data I provided. However, she shortly thereafter appears to have suddenly departed from the Board. I have never heard from her again, and no subsequent Board investigator has contacted me. The only thing I receive are the periodic news releases. I would appreciate it if you would advise me as to any action, research, or follow-up inquiry re the data I provided. I would also request you have Ms. Buttimer contact me, or provide a means for me to contact her." (120)

The ARRB refused to give Buttimer's contact details and made it clear they were unwilling to make use of the information he had given them. "Thank you for your March 31,1998 letter. Over the years we have received thousands of leads and suggestions regarding the existence and location of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. We appreciate that you furnished Ms. Buttimer with materials related to the CIA, Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico City. These are all areas we have explored extensively. Please be assured that all leads are carefully reviewed and always helpful to our efforts. However, due to limited resources, it would be virtually impossible to link any records that have been released as being opened as a result of materials provided by a particular individual. Our mandate is to be completed on September 30, 1998, and I hope that you understand our priority is to release the remaining records that relate to the assassination. But please know that your contributions to our efforts are appreciated." (121)

Gene Wheaton Interview

Malcolm Blunt passed these documents to Larry Hancock and Stuart Wexler. (122) Further research showed that Wheaton had decades of experience in law enforcement and criminal investigation. "It includes Air Force OSI work in criminal investigation and counter-intelligence, Army CID training and work, serving as Director of Security for Rockwell's IBEX program in Iran, acting as advisor to U.S. and Iranian agencies on security, police and anti-terrorism, security consulting work with the governments of Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well as for Bechtel Corp in its Saudi Jeddah airport project. It also includes his work as a consulting investigator on the Iran Contra case and the related congressional investigations of the 'guns for drugs' aspect of that affair." (123)

Details about Wheaton's past work can be found in Joel Bainerman's book, The Crimes of a President (1992): "Wheaton had been investigating Reagan-Bush covert operations since the early 1980s and had seen from the inside how these secret agendas operated. In addition to his 25 years' experience as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Army, he had designed security systems for airports in the Middle East and served as an anti-smuggling narcotics advisor to the Shah. By that time I had interviewed covert operators like Richard Secord, and Iran-Contra players such as Yaacov Nimrodi. Now I had someone who looked at the world of covert operations from the perspective of an investigator. Unlike intelligence agents, Wheaton didn't thrive on lies and deceit. Judging from his very modest home, he obviously wasn't in it for the money. In 1985 Wheaton was vice president of a small cargo airline company that Oliver North's network wanted to use to haul arms to the Contras and rebels elsewhere, such as in Afghanistan Wheaton had the expertise the secret team wanted, so they set out to recruit him. While Wheaton may have fit their political profile, he was conservative and right-wing; he was a cop, not an intelligence agent. He was brought into the center circle, where he stayed long enough to learn about the White House's ties to drug runners, the massive arms transfers to rebel groups, the mountains of falsified documentation and miscarriages of justice." (124)

Hancock and Wexler discovered that Gene Wheaton was living in a rural area south of San Francisco. Hancock then asked William Matson Law and Mark Sobel to interview Wheaton in the summer 2005. (125) A small group of researchers saw the video at the JFK Lancer conference in November, 2005. For many years the contents of this video was unpublished at the request of Wheaton, who had concerns about his safety. Wheaton died on 31st December, 2015, after suffering from a traumatic head injury due to a fall at his home. (126)

The interview was eventually posted on YouTube on 15th June, 2017. Wheaton provided very important information on two important members of the AM/WORLD project, Carl E. Jenkins and Chi Chi Rafael Quintero. "I first met Carl Jenkins in Iran in 1976... In 1985 he became my Washington representative when I became Vice President of the cargo airlines National Air, this was during the Iran-Contra thing and they wanted my airplanes for the Contras... We became like brothers... Chi Chi Quintero would come up to Carl's place in Fairfax, Virginia... from his home in Miami... We were just like a family, they would talk directly to me and to each other in my presence, as if I was one of the spook crowd, the covert crowd."

Manuel Artime and Rafael Quintero (far right) in 1964.
Manuel Artime and Chi Chi Rafael Quintero (far right) in 1964.

Wheaton explained how Jenkins became friends with Quintero, as well as giving information on Félix Rodríguez and Nestor Pino: "Carl Jenkins was the head recruiter and trainer of the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs, for the assassins and saboteurs going into Cuba. He became their father figure... Ted Shackley was the head of the CIA Miami Station and Jenkins worked for him. Chi Chi Quintero was one of those Bay of Pigs guys who got caught and when they got him out Chi Chi became like a son to Carl. He and two or three others, Félix Rodríguez and Nestor Pino, all went through Vietnam with him and in the African Congo when they were trying to overthrow Patrice Lumumba."

Wheaton then went on to discuss the AM/WORLD project that Jenkins and Quintero were involved with in 1963: "There was a CIA funded program to assassinate Castro and Carl was in charge of training the Cubans in Miami to assassinate Castro. They would go to Texas and Mexico and take old convertibles, stick old water melons on the back seat, in something they called triangulation shooting teams... According to them, they were the ones that diverted the Castro funds and training for their own agenda to snuff Kennedy... They were CIA people who were training people to assassinate Castro, but if you are training people to assassinate one man, you can use that training to assassinate anybody... They were furious with JFK because he backed off at the last moment at the Bay of Pigs... There was another clique above them who were worried about Kennedy not increasing the program to escalate hostilities in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Carl was training Chi Chi and several other shooters, about five of them."

Wheaton also spoke about the connection between Carl E. Jenkins, Lee Harvey Oswald and Carlos Marcello: "Carl Jenkins formed the first Marine Corps Reserve Unit in New Orleans in Louisiana and was the CIA liaison officer between CIA headquarters and Carlos Marcello and organized crime in the area. Carl helped recruit Lee Harvey Oswald into the CIA while he was a marine... Lee was just a stooge they set up as part of a Operation Security Plan for deniability when they put a real dirty operation into place." (127)

After watching the video in November, 2005, I contacted Don Bohning, a journalist who worked for the Miami Herald in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Bohning was also part of the CIA's Operation Mockingbird program, with the code-name AMCARBON-3. (128) While working on his book, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years, the journalist David Talbot contacted Bohning to ask him about his reported ties to the CIA. Bohning denied that he was paid for the work he did for the CIA. However, as Talbot pointed out: "The fact that Bohning was given a CIA code as an agency asset and was identified as an agency informant is a relevant piece of information that the readers" of his books and articles have a right to know. (129)

However, in a book published earlier that year, The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-1965 (2005) Bohning made it clear that alongside CIA officers such as Ted Shackley, Jake Esterline and Sam Halpern, his good friend, Chi Chi Rafael Quintero, was a major source of information for his book: "This account would have been woefully inadequate without the Cuban exile perspective... Quintero was among the first to join the ranks of exiles for what was to become the Bay of Pigs, was infiltrated into Cuba to report in advance of the invasion, and returned again during Operation Mongoose. As deputy to exile leader Manuel Artime, he provided invaluable insight for understanding the little-known autonomous operations." (130)

Bohning admitted that he was still in regular contact with Quintero and was willing to answer my questions. Quintero agreed that he had met Wheaton at the house of Jenkins and had told him the story of how they killed President Kennedy and he was telling the truth as "he knew it". However, he added that they had been lying to him as a joke. However, according to an article in Granma, the journalists Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Barredo Medina: “Another of Bush’s recruits for the Bay of Pigs invasion, Rafael Quintero, who was also part of this underworld of organizations and conspiracies against Cuba, stated: If I was to tell what I know about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the greatest scandal that has ever rocked the nation." (131)

Larry Hancock carried out detailed research into Carl Jenkins: "Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4). In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts (RIF 104-10308-10094). In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba." (132)

Chi Chi Rafael Quintero died on 1st October, 2006. Carl E. Jenkins is still alive and Stuart Wexler managed to discover where he lives. According to Hancock: "As to Jenkins, Stu called several times and never made it though his daughter; I know one other researcher who did get through and Jenkins was pretty distant, he stated he had never worked at JMWAVE (true, he worked for the Cuba Project in Panama, Guatemala and either headquarters or Key West). He said Wheaton lied about everything... contrary of course to Quintero." (133)

Did Jenkins and Quintero organize the assassination of John F. Kennedy? I think they did and posted my views on the subject in December 2005. As a result I was contacted by Jenkins' granddaughter by email, complaining about what I was saying about him on my website. I said I was willing to publish her grandfather's account of these events. She replied that he refused to do this. A few months later I received another email from her stating that I might be right about her grandfather. Did he confess to her? Or, did they just have a row about something else?

In 2008 Don Bohning published an article about my research into the JFK assassination in The Intelligencer, a journal published on behalf of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, Using interviews with former CIA officers, Porter Goss, Carl E. Jenkins and Tom Clines, he criticized me for using unreliable sources such as Frank Sturgis and Gerry Hemming. He appeared to be especially concerned about my work on Operation 40. However, in the article, he never mentioned what had really upset him, my exposure of him being a CIA asset (AMCARBON-3) and the information I provided on Jenkins and Quintero and their involvement in the AM/WORLD project. (134)

Don Bohning died in September, 2015. Two others who knew details have gone since then: Bradley E Ayers (February, 2017) and Isaac Irving Davidson (September, 2017). Carl E. Jenkins, is the only one left alive and he is not talking. Unless he leaves us a written confession this case will never be solved.

Interview with Gene Wheaton on YouTube (2005)


(1) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 3

(2) Gerald D. McKnight, Breach of Trust: How the Warren Commission Failed the Nation and Why (2005) page 10

(3) Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: A Life (2000) page 289

(4) Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali, One Hell of a Gamble: Krushchev, Castro, Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1999) page 345

(5) Seymour Hersh, The Dark Side of Camelot (1997) pages 450-451

(6) Walter Sheridan, The Fall and Rise of Jimmy Hoffa (1972) page 299

(7) Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Kennedy and His Times (1979) page 616

(8) Haynes Johnson, Washington Post (17th April, 1981)

(9) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 12

(10) Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: A Life (2000) page 177

(11) Edwin O. Guthman & Jeffrey Shulman (editors), Robert Kennedy: In His Own Words (1988) page 376

(12) Lamar Waldron, Ultimate Sacrifice (2005) page 30

(13) Warren Hinckle & William Turner, The Fish Is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro (1981) page 151

(14) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 277

(15) Peter Collier and David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama (1985) page 216

(16) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 36

(17) Philip H. Clark, John F. Kennedy’s Profiles In Courage (30th April, 2016)

(18) William Pawley, letter to President Dwight Eisenhower (12th January, 1960)

(19) Minutes of the National Security Council (14th January, 1960)

(20) David Kaiser, The Road to Dallas (2008) page 44

(21) President Dwight Eisenhower, press conference (12th January, 1960)

(22) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) page 8

(23) Fabian Escalante, The Secret War: CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-62 (1995) page 52

(24) David Corn, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades (1994) page 69

(25) Trumbull Higgins, The Perfect Failure: Kennedy, Eisenhower and the CIA at the Bay of Pigs (1989) pages 49-50

(26) Frank Church, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: An Interim Report of the United States Senate Committee to Study Government Operations (1976) page 71

(27) Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba (2005) page 177

(28) Thomas Powers, The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (1979) page 230

(29) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 37

(30) Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (1978) page 221

(31) Harris Wofford, Of Kennedys & Kings (1980) page 68

(32) President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech (17th January, 1961)

(33) Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior (1996) page 195

(34) David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch (1977) page 127

(35) Richard Bissell, letter to Edmond G. Thomas (14th November, 1960)

(36) Special National Intelligence Estimate number 85-3-60, Prospects for the Castro Regime (8th December, 1960)

(37) Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA (1995) page 241

(38) Leonard Mosley, Dulles (1978) page 469

(39) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) page 416

(40) John F. Kennedy, speech when he launched the proposed Alliance for Progress with Central and South America (13th March, 1961)

(41) Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: A Life (2000) page 246

(42) Richard Reeves, President Kennedy (1993) pages 79-83

(43) Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior (1996) page 175

(44) Pierre Salinger, With Kennedy (1966) page 194

(45) Evan Thomas, Robert Kennedy: A Life (2000) pages 255-256

(46) David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch: 25 Years of Peculiar Service (1977) page 106

(47) Terence Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (1983) page 143

(48) Adlai Stevenson, cable to Dean Rusk (16th April, 1961)

(49) Peter H. Wyden, Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story (1979) pages 219-220

(50) Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA (1995) page 261

(51) Richard Bissell, Reflections of a Cold Warrior (1996) page 187

(52) Richard Helms, A Look Over My Shoulder: A Life in the CIA (2003) page 179

(53) Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA (2005) pages 38-39

(54) Evan Thomas, The Very Best Men: The Daring Early Years of the CIA (1995) page 264

(55) John F. Kennedy, speech (21st April, 1961)

(56) Alejandro de Quesada, The Bay of Pigs: Cuba 1961 (2009) page 46

(57) Terence Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (1983) page 149

(58) Leonard Mosley, Dulles (1978) page 473

(59) Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA (2005) page 50

(60) David Kaiser, The Road to Dallas (2008) page 101

(61) Edward Lansdale, interview with Cecil B. Currey (19th December, 1984)

(62) Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders An Interim Report of the Select Committee To Study Governmental Operation (1976) page 141

(63) Cecil B. Currey, Edward Lansdale: The Unquiet America (1988) page 241

(64) Don Bohning, The Miami Herald (17th April, 1998)

(65) Lamar Waldron, Ultimate Sacrifice (2005) page 221

(66) William King Harvey, testimony to the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (25th June, 1975)

(67) Tad Szulc, testimony to the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (1975) Box 37/13

(68) David Kaiser, The Road to Dallas (2008) pages 76-77 and 102

(69) William King Harvey, testimony to the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (11th July, 1975)

(70) Richard Helms, testimony to the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (17th July, 1975)

(71) Fabian Escalante, The Secret War: CIA Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-62 (1995) page 121

(72) J. S. Earman, memorandum sent to Richard Helms (25th April, 1967)

(73) This section of the report appears on pages 48-61 of CIA Targets Fidel: Secret 1967 CIA Inspector General's Report on plots to assassinate Fidel Castro (1996)

(74) Haynes Johnson, Washington Post (17th April, 1981)

(75) Joseph Caldwell King, memorandum (28th June, 1963) CIA 104-10315-10004 declasified 27th January, 1999

(76) Lamar Waldron, Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK (2005) pages 56-57

(77) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) pages 104-111

(78) Bradley Ayers, sworn statement (3rd November, 1989)

(79) National Security Archives (24th November, 2003)

(80) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) pages 186-187

(81) McGeorge Bundy, memorandum to the Standing Group of the National Security Council (21st April, 1963)

(82) Richard Helms, memorandum to several figures in the CIA and the John Kennedy administration (1st May, 1963)

(83) James W. Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) page 61

(84) John McCone, memorandum to McGeorge Bundy (2nd May, 1963)

(85) Anthony Summers, The Kennedy Conspiracy: The Truth? (1992) pages 400-401

(86) Lisa Howard, War and Peace Report (September, 1963)

(87) William Attwood, memorandum (8th November, 1963)

(88) William Attwood, memorandum to Averell Harriman (18th September, 1963)

(89) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) page 259

(90) William Attwood, memorandum (8th November, 1963)

(91) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) page 260

(92) William Attwood, memorandum (8th November, 1963)

(93) Carlos Lechuga, Cuban Officials and JFK Historians Conference (7th December, 1995)

(94) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) pages 260-261

(95) Frank Church, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: An Interim Report of the United States Senate Committee to Study Government Operations (1976) page 88

(96) James W. Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) page 84

(97) McGeorge Bundy, memorandum (12th November, 1963)

(98) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) page 262

(99) John F. Kennedy, speech (18th November, 1963)

(100) James W. Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) page 84

(101) Jean Daniel, The New Republic (14th December, 1963)

(102) Frank Church, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders: An Interim Report of the United States Senate Committee to Study Government Operations (1976) page 94

(103) William Attwood, The Twilight Struggle: Tales of the Cold War (1987) page 262

(104) James W. Douglas, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters (2008) page 251

(105) Jean Daniel, The New Republic (7th December, 1963)

(106) William Attwood, memorandum (22nd November, 1963)

(107) Anthony Summers, Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the JFK Assassination (2013) page 370

(108) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 12

(109) William Attwood, letter to Richard Schweiker (16th October 1975)

(110) Richard Tomlinson, notes of meeting with William Attwood (29th January, 1986)

(111) David Talbot, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007) page 18

(112) David Atlee Phillips, The Night Watch (1977) page 62

(113) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993) pages 366-373

(114) Anthony Summers, Not in Your Lifetime: The Defining Book on the JFK Assassination (2013) pages 422-423

(115) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993) page 387

(116) Gaeton Fonzi, The Last Investigation (1993) pages 389-390

(117) Bradley E. Ayers, letter to John R. Tunheim (23rd August, 1994)

(118) Gene Wheaton, letter to the Assassination Records Review Board (15th February, 1995)

(119) Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator for the Assassination Records Review Board (12th July, 1995)

(120) Gene Wheaton, letter to the Assassination Records Review Board (31st March, 1998)

(121) Letter from Eileen A. Sullivan, Press and Public Affairs Officer, Assassination Records Review Board, to Gene Wheaton (20th April, 1998)

(122) Larry Hancock, email to John Simkin (26th August, 2019)

(123) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) page 481

(124) Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President (1992) page 37

(125) Larry Hancock, email to John Simkin (26th August, 2019)

(126) William E. Kelly, JFK Counter Coup (15th August, 2018)

(127) Gene Wheaton, interviewed by William Matson Law and Mark Sobel and posted on YouTube on 15th June, 2017.

(128) Joan Mellen, A Farewell to Justice (2005) page 253

(129) David Talbot , Don Bohning and the CIA (6th August, 2007)

(130) Don Bohning, The Castro Obsession: U.S. Covert Operations Against Cuba, 1959-1965 (2005) page xi

(131) Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Barredo Medina, Granma (15th January, 2006)

(132) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2006) page 485

(133) Larry Hancock, email to John Simkin (26th August, 2019)

(134) Don Bohning, The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (Volume 16 – Number 2 – Fall 2008)


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The Reichstag Fire was not a Nazi Conspiracy: Historians Interpreting the Past (12th April, 2016)

Why did Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst join the Conservative Party? (23rd March, 2016)

Mikhail Koltsov and Boris Efimov - Political Idealism and Survival (3rd March, 2016)

Why the name Spartacus Educational? (23rd February, 2016)

Right-wing infiltration of the BBC (1st February, 2016)

Bert Trautmann, a committed Nazi who became a British hero (13th January, 2016)

Frank Foley, a Christian worth remembering at Christmas (24th December, 2015)

How did governments react to the Jewish Migration Crisis in December, 1938? (17th December, 2015)

Does going to war help the careers of politicians? (2nd December, 2015)

Art and Politics: The Work of John Heartfield (18th November, 2015)

The People we should be remembering on Remembrance Sunday (7th November, 2015)

Why Suffragette is a reactionary movie (21st October, 2015)

Volkswagen and Nazi Germany (1st October, 2015)

David Cameron's Trade Union Act and fascism in Europe (23rd September, 2015)

The problems of appearing in a BBC documentary (17th September, 2015)

Mary Tudor, the first Queen of England (12th September, 2015)

Jeremy Corbyn, the new Harold Wilson? (5th September, 2015)

Anne Boleyn in the history classroom (29th August, 2015)

Why the BBC and the Daily Mail ran a false story on anti-fascist campaigner, Cedric Belfrage (22nd August, 2015)

Women and Politics during the Reign of Henry VIII (14th July, 2015)

The Politics of Austerity (16th June, 2015)

Was Henry FitzRoy, the illegitimate son of Henry VIII, murdered? (31st May, 2015)

The long history of the Daily Mail campaigning against the interests of working people (7th May, 2015)

Nigel Farage would have been hung, drawn and quartered if he lived during the reign of Henry VIII (5th May, 2015)

Was social mobility greater under Henry VIII than it is under David Cameron? (29th April, 2015)

Why it is important to study the life and death of Margaret Cheyney in the history classroom (15th April, 2015)

Is Sir Thomas More one of the 10 worst Britons in History? (6th March, 2015)

Was Henry VIII as bad as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin? (12th February, 2015)

The History of Freedom of Speech (13th January, 2015)

The Christmas Truce Football Game in 1914 (24th December, 2014)

The Anglocentric and Sexist misrepresentation of historical facts in The Imitation Game (2nd December, 2014)

The Secret Files of James Jesus Angleton (12th November, 2014)

Ben Bradlee and the Death of Mary Pinchot Meyer (29th October, 2014)

Yuri Nosenko and the Warren Report (15th October, 2014)

The KGB and Martin Luther King (2nd October, 2014)

The Death of Tomás Harris (24th September, 2014)

Simulations in the Classroom (1st September, 2014)

The KGB and the JFK Assassination (21st August, 2014)

West Ham United and the First World War (4th August, 2014)

The First World War and the War Propaganda Bureau (28th July, 2014)

Interpretations in History (8th July, 2014)

Alger Hiss was not framed by the FBI (17th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: Part 2 (14th June, 2014)

Google, Bing and Operation Mockingbird: The CIA and Search-Engine Results (10th June, 2014)

The Student as Teacher (7th June, 2014)

Is Wikipedia under the control of political extremists? (23rd May, 2014)

Why MI5 did not want you to know about Ernest Holloway Oldham (6th May, 2014)

The Strange Death of Lev Sedov (16th April, 2014)

Why we will never discover who killed John F. Kennedy (27th March, 2014)

The KGB planned to groom Michael Straight to become President of the United States (20th March, 2014)

The Allied Plot to Kill Lenin (7th March, 2014)

Was Rasputin murdered by MI6? (24th February 2014)

Winston Churchill and Chemical Weapons (11th February, 2014)

Pete Seeger and the Media (1st February 2014)

Should history teachers use Blackadder in the classroom? (15th January 2014)

Why did the intelligence services murder Dr. Stephen Ward? (8th January 2014)

Solomon Northup and 12 Years a Slave (4th January 2014)

The Angel of Auschwitz (6th December 2013)

The Death of John F. Kennedy (23rd November 2013)

Adolf Hitler and Women (22nd November 2013)

New Evidence in the Geli Raubal Case (10th November 2013)

Murder Cases in the Classroom (6th November 2013)

Major Truman Smith and the Funding of Adolf Hitler (4th November 2013)

Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler (30th October 2013)

Claud Cockburn and his fight against Appeasement (26th October 2013)

The Strange Case of William Wiseman (21st October 2013)

Robert Vansittart's Spy Network (17th October 2013)

British Newspaper Reporting of Appeasement and Nazi Germany (14th October 2013)

Paul Dacre, The Daily Mail and Fascism (12th October 2013)

Wallis Simpson and Nazi Germany (11th October 2013)

The Activities of MI5 (9th October 2013)

The Right Club and the Second World War (6th October 2013)

What did Paul Dacre's father do in the war? (4th October 2013)

Ralph Miliband and Lord Rothermere (2nd October 2013)